Christmas, for many, is a magical time of twinkling lights, singing, brightly colored packages, cookies, candy, parties, and laughter. However, for others, Christmas is shrouded with the stark reality of a cross they have to bear. Some will face things like roaring fires that ravage neighborhoods, hospital rooms, funeral homes, broken relationships, drunken relatives, or deep sorrow as they look in vain for the faces of those who are missing from their lives.
As we teach our children about Jesus, God’s greatest gift to the world, we must not forget to teach them that the manger was shadowed by a cross. The Messiah in the manger was destined to be a man of sorrows acquainted with all our grief, bearing all our sin and shame. The babe born in Bethlehem would grow up to be the Christ of the cross. He cares so much for us, and He wants us to care deeply for others. There are some people this Christmas who will experience tragedy. As a family we can reach out and be sensitive to their needs.
I love Christmas joy and all the fun that can be had with family and friends. I love exchanging gifts and remembering past Christmases together. I love spending time with the people we love encouraging and being encouraged through the deep relationships that sometimes only come together for special days like Christmas. Some families have very special traditions that they only do at Christmas. When my children were younger, we had a birthday cake for Jesus. It was a fun time to celebrate the birth of our Lord.
All that to say that I am not suggesting that special fun times are something we should resist or that we should feel badly if our home is filled with joy. When this is true, we have much to be thankful for and children need to enjoy the blessings of God praising Him even as they see in contrast that this is not true for everyone. What I am suggesting is that we take a moment during the season to stop and share with our children some of the misfortunes of others or help them to process the difficulties that even our own families might be facing this Christmas with a time of prayer. It is important that we learn to trust the God born as a babe, who willing went to the cross, to be present in the difficult times. Thinking of others or facing our own difficulties can be a springboard for praising God for the blessings that He has given us in the past and the present. Let’s not miss out on the opportunity to worship the Lord this Christmas through our expressions of love and prayers for one another.
Isaiah’s view of the life of the child born at Christmas gives us insight to Christ’s difficulties and His compassionate heart.
Let’s read again the Christmas Story according to Isaiah 53:1-6:
“Who would have believed what we just heard?
When was the Lord’s power revealed through him?
2 He sprouted up like a twig before God,
like a root out of parched soil;
he had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention,
no special appearance that we should want to follow him.
3 He was despised and rejected by people,
one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness;
people hid their faces from him;
he was despised, and we considered him insignificant.
4 But he lifted up our illnesses,
he carried our pain;
even though we thought he was being punished,
attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done.
5 He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds,
crushed because of our sins;
he endured punishment that made us well;
because of his wounds we have been healed.
6 All of us had wandered off like sheep;
each of us had strayed off on his own path,
but the Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him.” NET Bible
May His heart of sacrifice be seen through us this Christmas.